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Need pro advice on upgrade

mstu33
Contributor

The time is now. I have the approval to make a camera/lens purchase for my department at work. I work as Director of Marketing & Communications at an independent school. I have $4,800 for both a camera and lenses. What combination would you recommend? I am excited to upgrade from the T3i I have been using. I have rented both the 80D and the 5D Mark IV. 

 

 

31 REPLIES 31

coachboz68
Enthusiast

@mstu33 wrote:

The time is now. I have the approval to make a camera/lens purchase for my department at work. I work as Director of Marketing & Communications at an independent school. I have $4,800 for both a camera and lenses. What combination would you recommend? I am excited to upgrade from the T3i I have been using. I have rented both the 80D and the 5D Mark IV. 

 

 


First, if I had to make a tradeoff, I'd go with spending more on lenses than the body, relatively speaking.  

 

Second, if I had to choose between the 24-70 and the 70-200 (EF f/2.8 L versions of both) then I'd have to think hard about how much I could control my environment.  If you have the ability to stand wherever you want, have people get out of the way and/or pose, etc, then you can get a ton of stuff done with a full frame camera and the 70-200.  If you don't have the luxury of controlling the environment, then you have to decide which situations are most important to you.  For example, if you're going to be at close range in low light, you may opt for the 24-70 as that is a nice versatile range.  

 

I suppose my advice would be to think through your most common scenarios before deciding.  If you'd care to share what those are, perhaps others could advise further.  

 

 

"First, if I had to make a tradeoff, I'd go with spending more on lenses than the body,..."

 

And so would any person of average intelligence. And, less on little used add-ons.

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!

TCampbell
Elite

The 5D IV will consume most of the budget ... not leaving enough for additional equipment.  If budget weren't an issue, clearly it's the best choice. But as budget is an issue... it probably needs to be off the list.

 

The 80D and 6D II are both great options.  The 6D II is roughly 2 stops ahead of the 80D on noise performance.  (i.e. the amount of noise visible on a 6D II at ISO 6400 is roughly comparable to the amount of noise visible on an 80D at ISO 1600).

 

 

So that's quite a difference and possibly a big motiviator to go with a 6D II.  But the "body only" cost of a 6D II is about $600 higher.  Keep in mind these cameras do not have the same angle-of-view when using the same lenses.  The 80D is an APS-C crop-frame camera (image sensor is about 27mm measured diagonally) and the 6D II is a full-frame camera (image sensor measures about 43mm measured diagonally).

 

 

 

You've probably noticed everyone seems to agree on the 70-200mm f/2.8.  It's one of the most popular Canon lenses in terms of people who either already own it... or want it.  It's a low focal ratio zoom so it's good for low-light situations.  It's good for portraits.  It can deliver images with a tack-sharp subject and beautifully blurred backgrounds when used as a portrait lens (near the 200mm end of the zoom range).

 

Opinions will differ on the 24-70 vs. 24-105 vs. other choices.  For years there were basically two popular lenses.  The 24-105mm f/4 was the "kit" lens that came with most full-frame bodies.  The 24-70mm f/2.8 was the higher end lens with the difference being not just f/2.8 vs. f/4 but the f/4 was image stabilized and the f/2.8 was not.  Image stabilization helps reduce blur caused by camera movement but does nothing to stop blur caused by subject movement.  In low-light, an f/2.8 lens lets you set the shutter speed 1 stop faster and that helps reduce blur caused by subject movement.

 

But these days you can get a 24-70 in f/4 version with image stabilization and there is also a variable focal ratio 24-105 choice (even cheaper than the f/4 version).

 

But here's the thing... if you use a flash for indoor photography, then you bring your own light to shot and freezing subject movement is no longer an issue.  The 80D has a pop-up flash.  Pop-up flashes are not great - these are very weak flashes and you have very little control over them.  The 6D II doesn't have any flash at all.  It would require an external flash -- but you can get a lot more power and control when using an external flash.

 

You will often find people write that they "prefer natural light" (whatever that means) or "don't like flash".  I translate that to mean that the person has never learned how to properly use a flash.  Experienced photographers like to be able to control the light.  There are loads of ways to get gorgeous light using a flash.  You get much better light using off-camera flash than on-camera flash... but even on-camera flash, if blended with ambient light, can produce very attractive results.  An easy way to get a good blend when using an E-TTL flash, is to set the camera to Av mode.  There is a special menu setting which controls shutter speed when using flash in Av mode.  Set that mode to select a shutter speed in the 1/60-1/180 range (1/180 is the max flash-sync speed on a 6D II body).  This allows the camera to use the flash to freeze action but set a shutter speed long enough to collect ambient light for a pleasant result. 

 

If you use this option, then you can avoid the added expense of the 24-70mm f/2.8 lens and go with the 24-105mm f/4 instead (that's $500 less).  

 

 

Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da


@TCampbell wrote:

 

Pop-up flashes are not great - these are very weak flashes and you have very little control over them.  The 6D II doesn't have any flash at all.  It would require an external flash -- but you can get a lot more power and control when using an external flash. 


Just something else to keep in mind about pop-up flashes that bit me when I first started acquiring good lenses: the larger lenses (and/or their hood) will often obstruct the light from the pop-up flash and cast a shadow on the bottom of the pic.  Quite frustrating the first time someone experiences it.  


@coachboz68 wrote:

@TCampbell wrote:

 

Pop-up flashes are not great - these are very weak flashes and you have very little control over them.  The 6D II doesn't have any flash at all.  It would require an external flash -- but you can get a lot more power and control when using an external flash. 


Just something else to keep in mind about pop-up flashes that bit me when I first started acquiring good lenses: the larger lenses (and/or their hood) will often obstruct the light from the pop-up flash and cast a shadow on the bottom of the pic.  Quite frustrating the first time someone experiences it.  


I'll second that! It happened to me once (on a 7D with the 17-55mm f/2.8). Very embarrassing.  Smiley Sad

Bob
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA

amfoto1
Whiz

I read through the back and forth looking for info about what you need to shoot and how yuou need to use the images..... These should be your first concerns and will likely determine what camera & lens(es) would be best for your purposes. If you'll be shooting portraits, that would call for one thing... If you'll be shooting sports, entirely different gear would be recommended. If you are shooting for large prints, that's a lot more demanding than if the images will primarily be used on a website in fairly small size.

 

The only specific type of photography I've seen mentioned is theater... And although much of a stage is dark, often the subjects are  pretty well lit so might not require f/2.8 zooms. Especially when you have a camera capable of shooting at very high ISOs, which the full frame 6D Mark II certainly can. Recent APS- C format like 80D and 7D Mark II are very good, too... much better than your older T3i... though of course the full frame camera is even bettter.

 

How high ISO you can use depends a lot on what you'll be doing with the images. While a very high ISO image from a 24 to 26MP camera may be "full of noise" at 100% on your computer screen... it might make an 8x10 or 8x12 print with little problem. And it almost certainly would be usable in smaller size and lower resolutions online.

 

For example, this is a test shot done with one of my 20MP 7DII at ISO 16000 (not a typo, ISO sixteen thousand)...

ISO 16000 test shot

 

Above would print fine up to 8x10 or 8x12, even though it shows some noise when viewed at ridiculously large magnification. It certainly would be fine for even larger display online at Internet resolutions. (Note: "100%" vieiwing of a 24MP images on most modern computer monitors is equivalent to making a 5 foot wiide by 3.5 foot tall print, then viewing it from 18 to 22" away.) Here's a highly enlarged detail from the above image...

 

Detail, ISO 16000 test shot

 

Yes, there's noise in this image, shot at ISO 16000 by the light of a single 60W CFL bulb and small window, each 8 or 10 feet from the subject (both can be seen in the catchlight in the cat's eye... handheld, Canon 100-400mm II lens at 158mm and wide open at f/5). It was shot RAW (no in-camera noise reduction) with some care to avoid under-exposure and the RAW file was converted in Lightroom 6 with default noise reduction setting, only a minor boost in contrast and adjustment of the black point were done to the image. Normally wiht high ISO images I do more extensive NR in Photoshop, with Noiseware plug-in.... but didn't in this test because I wanted to see "worst case". I regularly use ISO 3200 and 6400 with my 7DIIs without concern. And  sometimes even higher ISO when necessary... depending upon what I'll be doing with the images. 80D is a little higher resolution than 7DII... but it's also a little newer model. I'd expect it to have similar high ISO performance. Full frame 6DII is probably good for one or two stops higher ISO... I believe it's native ISO range goes to ISO 40000 (I generally avoid using the extended ISOs on any camera, unless I absolutely have to use it and perhaps am planning to convert the image to black & white). 

 

My point is that depending upon your "real world" uses of your images, you might be able to use much higher ISO than you do now with your older camera. And maybe those f/4 zooms would be fine. And,  for that matter, so might an APS-C format camera. You also could "complement" a pair of f/4 zooms with one or two smaller/lighter, relatively affordable primes such as EF 28mm f/1.8, 35mm f/2, 50mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.8 or f/1.4, 135mm f/2. Not only are they comparatively compact, these prmes area also one to two stops faster than those bigger/heavier, more expensive f/2.8 zooms you're considering.(I shoot a lot of sports, so mostly use USM lenses for their fast focus and good tracking ability).

 

Don't get me wrong.... the f/2.8 zooms are great.  Just want to point out that you may have alternatives. The Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM lens can double as a macro lens (closest focusing of all their zooms.... with up to .70X magnification possible). It's also Image Stabilized (the f/2.8 version isn't). I haven't used the new 70-200mm f/4L IS USM "II" yet.... but I use the earlier version of that lens frequently (as well as an f/2.8 version). The f/4 lens is roughly 1/3 lighter and smaller than the f/2.8 lens.... not to mention considerably lower priced.  (Note: I bought the f/4 as a backup for my f/2.8, one of my most used lenses shooting sports... But I soon found myself using the f/4 lens more often than the f/2.8, because it's a great lens and my hands, arms and shoulders are a lot less sore at the end of a 6 or 8 hour session!)

 

But a lot depends upon your particular needs... what you have to shoot and how you'll be using the images.

 

If it were me, I'd be deciding my lenses first, then choosing the most affordable camera that has the features and functions I need, to use with them.

 

***********


Alan Myers
San Jose, Calif., USA
"Walk softly and carry a big lens."
GEAR: 5DII, 7DII (x2), 7D(x2) some other cameras, various lenses & accessories
FLICKR & ZENFOLIO 
.

"My pointis that depending upon your "real world" uses of your images, you might be able to use much higher ISO ..."

 

Great point.  And perhaps the only point.

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!

Keep in mind that in areas with a high complexity (e.g. the cat's fur) it's possible to disguise noise.   Noise shows up best in (a) flat areas (areas lacking complexity) and (b) dark areas.

 

If you look at the background instead of the cat, it looks very noisy.  Human skin wont have the level of complexity in this cat's coat and noise will be more noitceable.  

 

Keep in the mind the rules that "noise" is really the result of a poor signal to noise ratio (SNR) ... basically an inadequate exposure w.r.t. aperture & shutter speed for the amount of light.  ISO isn't part of exposure.

 

Some concert lighting situations use deliberately dim lighting to set a mood.  A camera thinks the exposure should work out to "middle gray" and will have a tendancy to try to over-expose those shots.  You can switch to a "spot" metering mode (so the camera wont try to take the dark background into account when determining exposure) and then expose for for subject faces.  An alternative is to let the camera use evaluative mode, use Av mode (set to wide open ... or if you need a bit more depth of field, stop down slightly as necessary) but tell the camera to use exposure compensation ... I commonly found setting in the range to around -2/3rd to -1.3 stops often capture the correct result.

 

In concert/theater scenarios use of a flash is very distracting and generally discouraged or just not permitted.  

 

Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da

mstu33
Contributor

Thanks to all for your great advice and tips! I was able to squeeze out an extra $200 on my budget and bought the 6D Mark II with a 24-70 f/2.8 and the 70-200 f/2.8 IS II. The camera and lenses came in yesterday and they are amazing! Such a wonderful upgrade from the T3i!

"...bought the 6D Mark II with a 24-70 f/2.8 and the 70-200 f/2.8 IS II."

 

Fantastic, you'll love it.

EB
EOS 1DX and 1D Mk IV and several lenses!
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